The IPL newsletter: Volume 17, Issue 350

News from the IPL


Canada and Ontario Invest in Post-Secondary Infrastructure at Centennial College

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
The Government of Canada values the role of post-secondary institutions as they help equip young Canadians with the education and training they need for future careers that will help them join a strong, healthy middle class. The recent $44.2-million investment in Centennial College will do just that by fostering the training needed for the well-paying middle-class jobs of today and tomorrow. Centennial College will receive $44.2 million for the creation of the new Centennial Downsview Park Aerospace Campus. This new campus, which incorporates part of the former de Havilland building at Downsview Park, is the first phase in the development of an aerospace hub. In bringing together academic institutions and industry under one roof, this hub will stimulate and accelerate collaborative efforts in post-secondary curriculum enhancement, research and development, and technology commercialization.

Investing in Regional Strategies

SSTI Weekly Digest
The U.S. Department of Commerce recently announced that 35 organizations will receive nearly $15 million in funding to create and expand cluster-focused, proof-of-concept and commercialization programs, and early stage seed capital funds through the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) program. The organizations, including nonprofits, institutions of higher education, and entrepreneurship-focused organizations, reach urban and rural areas across the U.S. The awards include the program’s first investments in historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the South through NexusLA, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Research Park Corporation. Byron Clayton, CEO of NexusLA, said that the award will increase the diversity of the deal flow pipeline. Clayton said he saw a unique opportunity in partnering with Louisiana’s HBCUs, realizing their vast potential could be a valuable asset in the venture. RIS, designed to spur innovation capacity-building activities in regions across the nation, has been a top legislative priority of SSTI. The program was originally authorized through the America COMPETES reauthorization Act of 2010, and received a dedicated appropriation for the first time in FY2014.

Editor's Pick

High-Tech Nation: How Technological Innovation Shapes America’s 435 Congressional Districts

John Wu, Adams Nager, and Joseph Chuzhin, ITIF
For years, policy discussions about America’s innovation-driven, high-tech economy have focused on just a few iconic places, such as the Route 128 tech corridor around Boston, Massachusetts; Research Triangle Park in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Austin, Texas; Seattle, Washington; and, of course, California’s white-hot Silicon Valley. This has always been too myopic a view of how innovation is distributed across the country, because many other metropolitan areas and regions—from Phoenix to Salt Lake City to Philadelphia—are innovative hot spots, too, and many more areas are developing tech capabilities. An unfortunate result of this myopia has been that policy debates about how to bolster the country’s innovative capacity have often been seen as the province of only the few members of Congress who represent districts or states that are recognizably tech-heavy, while many members from other districts focus on other issues. This needs to change, not only because the premise is incorrect, but also because the country’s competitive position in the global economy hinges on developing a broad-based, bipartisan, bicameral understanding and support for federal policies to spur innovation and growth. The purpose of this report is to shed light on just how widely diffused the country’s innovation-driven, high-tech economy really is, so members of Congress and other policymakers can find common cause in advancing an agenda that builds up the shared foundations of national strength in a globally integrated marketplace.

Innovation Policy

Building a Data-Driven Education System in the United States

Joshua New, Center for Data Innovation
Schools today are not very different from 50 years ago. Instructors still teach to the average, rather than provide students personalized instruction, because it is expedient, not because it is effective. Most educators still rely on tradition and rules of thumb, rather than use evidenced-based tools and methods to advance student achievement. And most administrators still make decisions, often inaccurately, based on assumptions and intuition, rather than use detailed metrics and analytics to manage schools efficiently and fairly. In short, while most Americans are empowered by data and technology in many aspects of their lives, U.S. schools are largely failing to use data to transform and improve education, even though better use of data has the potential to significantly improve how educators teach children and how  administrators manage schools.

Transition Memo to President-Elect Trump: How to Spur Innovation, Productivity, and Competitiveness

At the outset of the 2016 presidential campaign, ITIF released a strategy memo titled “Tech Policy 2016: What Presidential Candidates Should Be Talking About.” It outlined an ambitious campaign agenda that hinged on three key themes—fostering innovation, boosting productivity, and competing globally—and it offered a series of specific policy proposals to advance such an agenda. That was the poetry we hoped to hear in the campaign. Now that the election is over, it is time for the prose of governing. This memo revisits the same three themes of innovation, productivity, and competitiveness, and offers a revised set of actionable proposals that the new administration can accomplish in its first year through executive authority or by working with Congress on discrete legislative measures that would be comparatively easy to accomplish. Cutting across all of our recommendations is a basic recognition and a core conviction: America’s economic future will depend on successfully driving innovation, productivity growth, and competitiveness, and to do that, the federal government will need to adopt new and more creative approaches to public policy. 

Blockchain Rewires Financial Markets

As the world moves to overcome the hype surrounding blockchains, financial markets institutions are among the first to leverage the decentralized blockchain platform to define their futures. The IBM Institute for Business Value with the support of the Economist Intelligence Unit surveyed 200 financial markets institutions in 16 countries on their experiences and expectations with blockchains. This executive report provides insights into the motivation and adoption patterns in financial markets, and most importantly, identifies that the industry is moving at a much faster rate than anticipated.

Clusters & Regions

Innovation and the City

Center for an Urban Future
As urban growth has exploded over the past half century, cities have become the drivers of government innovation. From New York to Medellin to Copenhagen, mayors and city managers are finding novel ways to address some of the biggest challenges facing society, whether combating entrenched poverty, financing new infrastructure projects, or protecting the environment. Yet for all the innovative policies taking root in cities across the globe, there are few reliable mechanisms to share what is working. This report aims to fill the gap. The policies detailed demonstrate the one-of-a-kind ways cities are combating inequality and recidivism; creating unique workforce development and job preservation solutions; propelling user driven tech solutions; and establishing inclusive growth programs that provide for all residents. The 15 policies detailed in the report include, among others: San Francisco’s Five Keys Charter School, the nation’s only charter school embedded inside a city’s correctional system; Seattle’s innovative Race and Social Justice Initiative, which established a more inclusive process for municipal policymaking; Barcelona’s Reempresa program, a rare economic development program focused on small business succession; Los Angeles’ new model for integrating workforce and educational services for youth; São Paulo’s groundbreaking plan to capture value from new real estate development to help cover the cost of infrastructure improvements; and a path-breaking initiative from Malang, Indonesia, which uses revenue generated from garbage, and recycling collection to fund comprehensive healthcare for low-income residents.

The Great British Brain Drain: Where Graduates Move and Why

Paul Swinney and Maire Williams, Centre for Cities
Attracting and retaining talent is increasingly critical for the success of city economies, but this is a big challenge for many of our cities. While the UK’s great universities are spread around the country, many graduates head straight for the bright lights of the capital after completing their studies. The patterns of graduate migration appear to be primarily driven by job opportunities. If a city wants to attract and retain a greater number of graduates, then it needs to support economic growth, rather than rely on narrower policies specifically targeted at graduate attraction and retention. Cities should aim to support the creation of more jobs, and particularly high-skilled knowledge jobs. The report contains four key policy recommendations.

Statistics & Indicators

The Metro Talent Competition: Attracting and Growing Highly Educated Workers

Alan Berube and Natalie Holmes, Brookings
U.S. cities and regions continue to focus significant energy on efforts to attract highly educated workers to their local marketplace. These efforts make sense, since human capital—often measured as the rate of higher educational attainment among the adult population—is among the most important contributors to growth in those advanced economies that specialize in knowledge-based industries. And the United States is a large, flexible labor market in which both native-born and foreign-born workers have historically sought economic opportunity outside the communities in which they grew up. Of course, the stock of human capital in a region depends not only on which individuals that place is able to attract, but also on its success in nurturing and retaining a highly educated “home-grown” population. About half of all adults in large metro areas reside in the state of their birth, suggesting that they will remain a critical part of the economic and social fabric in these places. To further dissect this relationship between migration and human capital, the researchers examined data from the Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey. The survey asks adults about their highest level of educational attainment, as well as their place of birth. We tabulated results to determine, for each of the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, rates of four-year college degree attainment for prime working-age individuals (ages 25 to 54) living in the state of their birth, versus those born elsewhere (either in the United States or abroad).

Policy Digest

Job Creation and Local Economic Development 2016

This second edition of Job Creation and Local Economic Development examines how national and local actors can better work together to support economic development and job creation at the local level. It sheds light on a continuum of issues – from how skills policy can better meet the needs of local communities to how local actors can better engage employers in apprenticeships and improve the implementation of SME and entrepreneurship policy. It includes international comparisons that allow local areas to take stock of how they are performing in the marketplace for skills and jobs. It also includes a set of country profiles featuring, among other things, new data on skills supply and demand at the level of OECD sub-regions.

Places are being left behind in the global marketplace for skills and jobs
The marketplace for skills and jobs is becoming increasingly globalised, and some local areas are being left behind as highly productive workers and the employers who seek them become concentrated in fewer places. While there has been an overall increase in education levels between 2000 and 2014 across OECD countries, education levels in the highest performing local areas generally grew more than education levels in the lowest performing local areas, contributing to increasing geographic divides. Some countries, such as Canada, Finland, France, Italy, Latvia, Norway, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, and the United Kingdom, are also seeing growing gaps in the geographic distribution of medium- and high-skilled jobs. In international comparisons, some places perform relatively poorly on both the supply of and demand for skills, resulting in a “low skills trap”. Such places may find themselves stuck in low value-added activities, unable to expand to economic activities that are more productive and make good use of a highly-skilled workforce. However, even in high performing places, people without the right skills or those facing barriers accessing quality jobs may be left behind.

Improving vocational education and training from the bottom up to ensure that people get the right skills for good jobs
Many countries are in the process of reforming their VET systems. Top priorities include increasing the labour market relevance of training and expanding apprenticeships and other types of work-based learning. As the available jobs and skills in demand vary considerably at the local level, a balance is needed between tailoring VET to specific local conditions and maintaining a certain degree of national coherence. Additionally, the leadership role local public agencies and governments can take in improving the implementation of apprenticeship programmes should not be discounted. Better consideration of these factors will not only improve national outcomes, but also ensure that VET contributes to strategic economic development priorities locally.

Better tailoring and coordinating policies to unleash entrepreneurial potential
Supporting entrepreneurship and SMEs is an important part of promoting endogenous growth and strengthening the local economic base. The design and delivery of SME and entrepreneurship policies have become more complex in recent years, and it is not uncommon to see three or four levels of government as well as multiple ministries and government agencies simultaneously involved. Better co-ordination between the various stakeholders involved in policy design and implementation is important to avoid gaps and duplications, and to harness synergies between programmes. Regardless of the level of governance from which policies and programmes originate, they need to be tailored to local conditions at the level of delivery.

Entrepreneurship can also support social inclusion. Youth unemployment remains an urgent issue in many OECD countries, but the role entrepreneurship support can play in strengthening the labour market attachment of disadvantaged youth is often overlooked. It is not a panacea for helping all disadvantaged youth find success, but it can help those with the ambition and wherewithal to become self-employed while also increasing the overall employability of a larger group.

What national actors can do to improve the local implementation of VET programs

  • Design VET frameworks that allow local stakeholders to tailor training to local labour market needs while still maintaining a certain level of national consistency. Policy makers have a number of options for how to do this (e.g. setting aside time within curriculums for local concerns, moving to more modular programmes), but the trade-offs of each need to be carefully managed.
  • Build the capacities needed to make VET systems more agile locally. Training and capacity-building for VET teachers, trainers and institutions as well as promoting sharing between VET stakeholders can all help.
  • Develop a strong national apprenticeship framework that builds a high quality system, includes strategically-designed incentives for employer participation, and allows for flexible delivery frameworks. and what local actors can do.
  • Balance the need to meet pressing local labour market demands with ensuring that VET helps to move local economies to higher skilled and value-added products and services.
  • Encourage VET teachers and trainers to maintain contact with local employers and industries to keep their skills and knowledge up-to-date.
  • Boost employer engagement in apprenticeships through both “soft” mechanisms such as employer leadership awards, and measures with more “teeth”, such as social clauses in procurement to induce employers to offer apprenticeships.
  • Tailor the delivery of apprenticeship programmes so that they work better for a broader range of employers, including SMEs, and disadvantaged populations. Working with actors such as SME networks and social enterprises can be beneficial.

What national actors can do to unleash local entrepreneurial potential

  • Maximize the efficiency of SME and entrepreneurship policy delivery by allowing for local tailoring, co-locating services, using intermediary organisations to deliver programs, and/or developing formal agreements for the division of competences and financing between governance levels.
  • Develop national frameworks and strategies to support disadvantaged young people in entrepreneurship, and clearly assign responsibility for this policy portfolio to a single agency or ministry.
  • Embed entrepreneurship into national education frameworks to reach a broad swath of young people, while also providing integrated packages of entrepreneurship support in other settings to reach young people outside of the education system.

What local actors can do

  • Forge connections across administrative borders in developing and co-ordinating entrepreneurship and SME policy to leverage potential synergies, improve labour mobility, and expand the potential markets open to entrepreneurs.
  • Work with organisations that already have established relationships with disadvantaged youth to maximise the reach of entrepreneurship programmes.
  • To better reach disadvantaged youth, provide integrated packages of support, use hands-on learning methods, and involve entrepreneurs in programme delivery.


Regional Studies Association Winter Conference 2016 – New Pressures on Cities and Regions

London, UK, 24-25 November, 2016
This conference provides an intellectual and policy-relevant platform for scholars around the world to address the new and emerging challenges facing cities and regions. The global economic slowdown poses major concerns to many territories – through shortfalls in employment, household incomes, corporate profitability and tax revenues. The steel industry has been one of the hardest hit, forcing massive plant closures and redundancies from China to the UK. Austerity in public finances threatens the infrastructure required to lay the foundation for future growth and development. Economic uncertainties and uneven development also contribute to growing social unrest and new waves of international migration. Heightened regulation of the banks and other financial institutions is bound to have an impact on the funding of house-building and other real estate development, with uncertain consequences. Meanwhile the accelerating pace of technological change in many industries and occupations means different skills and capabilities are required of the workforce, causing painful adjustments for many communities. And looming concerns about climate change and accelerating environmental degradation complicate the task of urban and regional revitalization. The 2016 Winter Conference of the Regional Studies Association presents a timely opportunity to discuss these issues, to clarify the research imperatives, and to consider the challenges facing policymakers and practitioners. The conference organizers are keen to attract papers and sessions that address a broad research and policy agenda, including contributions from any discipline which can offer relevant insights into the urban-regional-global nexus.

European Cluster Conference

Brussels, Belgium, 30 November – 2 December, 2016
The fifth edition of the European Cluster Conference will be an inspiring event not to be missed by policy-makers from national and regional authorities involved or interested in cluster policies and cluster practitioners. The last edition of the European Cluster Conference in 2014 gathered over 340 cluster stakeholders from across Europe. As the 2016 edition is limited to 250 participants, early registration is advised – once possible; the registration platform is expected to be open in September. This year’s conference will focus on Cluster 4.0 – Shaping Smart Industries and include high-level plenary speeches, panel discussions and interactive sessions where participants will have the chance to share their experiences and challenges. Parallel discussions will take place in four priority areas related to industrial modernization, namely smart manufacturing and digital transformation, the circular economy, key enabling technologies, and creative and data-driven services. The parallel discussions will all cover the same key horizontal topics in different sessions. These include the role of clusters in boosting the innovation uptake and growth opportunities through strengthening cross-sectoral value chain linkages, strategic European partnering, international collaboration and skills towards shaping smart industries.

CFP: 4th PhD Workshop in Economic of Innovation, Complexity, and Knowledge

Turin, Italy, 15-16 December, 2016
The Vilfredo Pareto Doctorate program of the University of Turin and the BRICK, Collegio Carlo Alberto, are pleased to announce the 4th Doctoral Workshop in Economics of Innovation, Complexity and Knowledge. The aim of the workshop is to bring together PhD students from all over the world working in the broad fields of Economics of Innovation, Complexity and Knowledge. The Workshop will provide participants with a great opportunity to network with peers researching on similar topics and to receive feedback from both junior and senior scholars.

CFP: 11th Workshop on the Organization, Economics, and Policy of Scientific Research

Torino, Italy, 15-16 May, 2017
The aim of the workshop is to bring together a small group of scholars interested in the analysis of the production and diffusion of scientific research from an economics, historical, organizational, and policy perspective. The workshop aims at including papers form various streams of research developed in recent years in and around the area of public and private scientific research. 

Regional Studies Association Conference 2017: The Great Regional Awakening – New Directions

Dublin, Ireland, 4-7 June, 2017
A ‘Great Regional Awakening’ is underway. There is a growing realization that regional inequalities have both contributed to, and amplified, the ‘Great Recession’ that shook advanced and emerging economies alike. It is also becoming apparent that the crisis has been having very different impacts spatially. This will only help to further exacerbate uneven economic development, fueling more trouble down the line. In Europe, major economic fault-lines are re-emerging between and within national economies; between the core and the periphery; between urban and rural areas; between city-regions and within cities themselves. This pattern is replicated elsewhere – in advanced, emerging and developing world. There is an urgent need to re-examine all aspects of local and regional development and how it relates to national and international economic dynamics; and to social, political, cultural, technological and environmental processes. Having spent over 50 years advocating more balanced regional development, the Regional Studies Association is now spearheading a major effort to address these pressing issues in such challenging times.


New York, USA, 12-14 June, 2017
DRUID and NYU Stern School of Business are proud to invite senior and junior scholars to participate and contribute with a paper to DRUID17, hosted by NYU Stern in New York. Presenting distinguished plenary speakers, a range of parallel paper sessions, and a highly attractive social program, the conference aims at mapping theoretical, empirical and methodological advances, contributing novel insights, and help identifying scholarly positions, divisions, and common grounds in current scientific controversies within the field. DRUID17 invites paper submissions on innovation, entrepreneurship and other aspects of structural, institutional and geographic change.

Atlanta Conference on Science and Innovation Policy

Atlanta, USA, 9-11 October, 2017
The Atlanta Conference on Science and Innovation Policy provides a showcase for the highest quality scholarship addressing the multidimensional challenges and interrelated characteristics of science and innovation policy and processes. Spanning three days, the conference will include plenary sessions reflecting different facets of the science and innovation system, presentations of well-developed research, and an early career poster session to allow young researchers to present their work. Submissions should address issues relevant to the science and innovation system, and may fall into one or more topic areas related to the STI/research system.

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This newsletter is prepared by Jen Nelles.
Project manager is David A. Wolfe.